America, Mind Body Spirit

Australia to America: Why I’m Returning to Burning Man 2016


Checking in from the USA, howdy lovers and friends!

At this very second, I’m typing this to you in a rad rental Escape campervan (her name is Prickles!) as some cool cats from Australia and I drive from San Francisco to the middle of the Nevada desert. Having made this announcement via email, my readers know the first week of September every year now means just one thing for me…

BURNING MAN. Yup, I’ve dug out my brick Burner boots. I’m returning Home for a week, folks. (I just let out a very loud holler.)

Didn’t you just return from long-term travel, Tiff? Sure did. How do you find the money to take off again? That’ll be explained in a future blog post. Wow, Burning Man must be a big deal if you’re flying to America just for that. It really is. Because I’ve been asked by many of you, I want to share reasons why in this blog post.



Firstly, there’s still a misconception that Burning Man is a music festival that’s all about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll techno. Alright, while all of that’s present at temporary city Black Rock City – let’s be real –, it barely scratches the surface on what the community gathering that rounds up 70,000+ citizens on a vast ancient lakebed is really about.

Burning Man has had such a profound impact on my life that when I left last year, I said I’d be back. What might have been a loose statement while still high from the experience, well, I can’t believe it, I’m actually here. Manifestation, people. The truth is I’m even more nervous for this occasion compared to the lead up of my first burn because I know what to expect – and of course have plenty of room for the unexpected.

Preparing for Burning Man certainly isn’t cheap, but like with everything else in life: the more you put in, you more you get out. I just had to make this occasion happen, spreading love and gifting other beautiful humans (without expecting anything in return – no bartering!) with everything I’ve got. When I exit the playa (the desert grounds of Black Rock City), my calculated spending for Burning Man sort of goes into this beautiful black hole of pricelessness, much separate from my real life expenses.

For me, Burning Man is a soul investment. I’m not so sure “relaxing” would be an accurate word to describe the experience. You don’t just attend, you participate and it can be bloody hard mental and physical work. But here’s the thing. Burning Man with all its extremities in expressive art and culture, and nature conditions water your mind, body and spirit in infinite ways that stick with you in the ‘real world’. This deeply personal participation through challenging yourself to truly open up is the only way for transformative change. I know last year I changed for the better.

You know, it’s the closest thing to the place I want to live in. When you’re there, only then can you understand and appreciate a rather unregulated society where actions are made out of love rather than fear of law and order. I learned the meaning and importance of civic responsibility and the way of selfless service.

I’m going to relish and embrace this social environment that is unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions and advertising. This in itself is a break from the average every day. Rather than consumption, I can focus on a participatory experience with other free-thinking individualists. Oh, all the interesting people I’ll meet and the great conversations we’ll hold. All the unreal art installations, all the cheeky, fun meet-ups and workshops, all the activity that pierces right into my soul, forcing me to face anything I’m ever afraid of and give me everything I need and more – I don’t know exactly what yet but this thought really excites me.

I actually miss the playa dust and can’t wait to be stuck in the middle of a furious dust storm (a “white out”) where I can’t see anything more than a few metres from me, dealing with hellishly hot days and freakishly cold nights. Bring it, Burning Man. There’s nothing I want more than to be self-reliant, reconnecting with my senses and aligning with the elements of the surrealism that is Black Rock City. There won’t be a moment where I’ll be over it, I’d ride my bike around the playa on the last day looking at my surrounds still in awe, “Am I dreaming?” A desert landscape like that, you’ll never forget.

Here, I’m just in my element.

Phew, let me just take one big, deep breath for a second.

If you haven’t guessed, there’ll be no WiFi. Busy savouring the moments! See you on the other side.

Light and love,


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Burning Man is always held the week prior to and including Labor Day weekend (late August – early September) in USA.

Visit to learn more about the gathering and how you can keep the culture alive.

Burning Man also holds smaller official regional gatherings throughout the year in Australia across different states, such as Burning Seed during early October in NSW. To get involved, check out

Published by Tiffany Tran

Passionate Human (also Travel & Lifestyle Writer based in Sydney, Australia). Say hello: The backstory →

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